A chance purchase of Pam Jenoff’s book – Kommandant’s Girl, was definitely an intriguing read. Tracing the emotional upheavals of newly-wed (Jew) Emma – as she is forced to be separated from her husband who is into the Resistance, as she voluntarily joins the ghettos to be with her parents, is pulled out from there by influential Jews outside, a false identity and a chance to work with a highly respected Nazi who seems to be truly interested in her. If these were not enough emotions – Emma a.k.a Anna Lipowski has to go through feigning a change of faith to prove her new identity, suddenly finds herself with child (a jewish child or a Nazi one? ), and is torn between her love for her absent husband, and an attraction towards the Kommandant present.
While some parts of the book are cliched, with the element of romance thrown in – the subtle references to life during the war are just marvelously interwoven in the book. Contempt for the Nazis, Helplessness about the German power, the actual realization of the loss of near and dear ones,murder in front of your eyes, the first execution you see or gun shot you hear, the utter lack of power to do anything as you understand your people are being forced into death camps, rationed food, alert secret meetings between Jews – these are things you almost take for granted as background information whilst reading.
But almost- difficult- to -perceive references about life during the war are definitely etched in your memory as you put the book down. Each character has their own distinct role to play – savvy Krysia, innocent Lukaz, dynamic Alek, persuasive Jacob, scheming Malgorzata and the charismatic Kommandant himself – Herr Richwalder. You are drawn to them in their presence and miss them in their absence.
Written in simple language and adequately researched, Kommandant’s Girl – is definitely worth a read !